Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McCain's Political Eloquence Deficit

These are some polished ads that a group called Let Freedom Ring is releasing as part of a $5 million campaign. Of course, Barack Obama raised $150 million in September alone.

"Part of the Problem"

"Income Tax"

"Middle Class"

"Punished With A Baby"


"Nice Try, Senator"

You can view others at neverfindout.org.

If John McCain had been able to explain these matters with this simple clarity, he would be five points ahead in the polls instead of ten points behind. But McCain's tragic failure seems to be the failure of every senator who has run for president in my lifetime. (JFK ran just before I was born. LBJ doesn't count because he ran against Sen. Barry Goldwater.) They can't talk. Or they talk too much. They've had no need to talk to ordinary people because they have generally had no serious opposition in their re-election campaigns which themselves are infrequent--every six years. Governors, on the other hand, face more serious challenges and more frequently have to defend themselves before the people.

It is painful to watch John McCain in debates. When criticizing his opponent, he begins a point but does not finish it. He assumes we all know what he is talking about and will make the necessary connections on our own. For example, in one debate he poked Obama with a reference to Herbert Hoover. Who is Herbert Hoover? Most people have never heard of him. He did not go on to complete the point by saying that like Hoover in 1930-32, Obama will lead us into a depression.

Gov. Reagan never made that mistake in 1980. These ads do not make that mistake.

How does Senator Obama fit into this thesis? Perhaps his experience in training ordinary people in Chicago to be political radicals as well as his experience as a law school professor were more formative than the few weeks he spent in the U.S. Senate before running for president.

So in 2008, both George W. Bush and John McCain serve as examples of how necessary it is to master the art of rhetoric if you hope to lead people in a free republic.

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